Gifts from the kitchen

The Taos News - - IN THE KITCHEN - By Pa­tri­cia West-Barker

It’s not too late to make a few sim­ple, last-minute gifts from the kitchen. Pack­aged pret­tily in fancy glass jars or dec­o­ra­tive bowls, tied with rib­bons and topped with a tiny or­na­ment or sprig of green, each of these three would make a de­li­cious host­ess gift.

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This treat from Moor­ish Spain takes ad­van­tage of read­ily avail­able win­ter citrus. You can mar­i­nate the olives for a min­i­mum of 24 hours or as long as a week. The longer they mar­i­nate, the bet­ter they taste.

TAN­GER­INE-MAR­I­NATED OLIVES

2 cups mixed green olives, pit­ted or cracked

6 small gar­lic cloves, crushed in a gar­lic press

2 ta­ble­spoons grated tan­ger­ine rind ½ cup fresh tan­ger­ine juice

4 thin lemon slices, halved and seeded

3 to 4 ta­ble­spoons sherry vine­gar ¼ ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil

2 small bay leaves

½ dried chile de ár­bol, crum­bled Gen­er­ous pinch ground cumin

Place all in­gre­di­ents in a large glass jar and shake or stir to mix well. Cover the jar and let the olives mar­i­nate at room tem­per­a­ture overnight, shak­ing oc­ca­sion­ally. Or put the jar in the re­frig­er­a­tor and let them mar­i­nate up to a week, shak­ing once in a while. (Adapted from The New Span­ish Ta­ble by Anya von Bremzen, Work­man Pub­lish­ing, 2005)

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These spiced pe­cans go well with a glass of wine or a cock­tail; they can also be used to add some sa­vory crunch to a green salad.

SPICED PE­CANS ¼ tea­spoon salt

½ tea­spoon sugar (can sub­sti­tute a large pinch of ste­via)

2 tea­spoons ground cumin

1/8 to ¼ tea­spoon ground cayenne pep­per

4 tea­spoons veg­etable oil

2 cups pecan halves

Heat oven to 350 de­grees. Mix first four dry in­gre­di­ents to­gether in a medium bowl. Stir in the oil and stir gen­tly un­til the mix­ture is smooth. Toss the pe­cans into the bowl, stir­ring to coat them as evenly as pos­si­ble. Pour onto a bak­ing sheet and spread in a sin­gle layer. Toast in the oven for 8 to 10 min­utes, or un­til they color slightly. Let cool com­pletely be­fore pack­ag­ing in an air­tight con­tainer; the nuts will keep well for about a week. (Adapted from The Es­sen­tial New York

Times Cook­book by Amanda Hesser, W.W. Nor­ton & Com­pany, 2010)

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This recipe for Italy’s fa­vorite afterdin­ner drink, also adapted from The Es­sen­tial New York Times Cook­book, can be com­pleted in three weeks — just in time for hol­i­day gift­ing. A fancy glass bot­tle that seals tightly and an op­tional pair of shot glasses com­pletes the pack­age.

LIMONCELLO

12 lemons, scrubbed

1 (750 ml.) bot­tle good vodka ½ cup sugar

½ cup wa­ter

Finely grate the zest of the lemons and com­bine with the vodka in a large glass jar. (You can squeeze the lemons and freeze the juice for lemon bars or next sum­mer’s le­mon­ade.) Cover tightly and let stand in a cool, dark place for two weeks, shak­ing the jar oc­ca­sion­ally.

At the end of that time, mix the sugar with the wa­ter in a small pan and heat un­til it dis­solves. Let cool to room tem­per­a­ture.

Strain the vodka mix­ture through a very fine sieve or a strainer lined with a dou­ble layer of cheese­cloth into a large bowl. Add the sugar syrup to the vodka and mix well.

Ster­il­ize a 1-liter glass bot­tle and use a fun­nel to pour the vodka mix­ture into it. Let stand in a cool dark place for an­other week, then store it in the freezer. Serve in chilled shot glasses. Cin cin!

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